ARCHIVED CONTENT: In December 2020, the CZO program was succeeded by the Critical Zone Collaborative Network (CZ Net) ×

Highlights of CZO Education and Outreach

Critical Zone cross-section. After Chorover et al, 2007. Catalina-Jemez CZO

19 Mar 2019

Example activities assembled for AGU Fall Meeting 2018, Washington, D.C. Includes a two-page PDF handout.

Image: Critical Zone cross-section. After Chorover et al, 2007. Catalina-Jemez CZO [Click image to enlarge]

Education-Outreach highlights.

For AGU 2018, we've assembled a two-page document with examples of CZO education-outreach activities.

On this page


We all depend on the Critical Zone

Earth’s vital outer skin

It extends from tops of trees to bottom of groundwater

  • Where rock, soil, water, air, and living organisms interact.
  • Its processes operate on second-to-eon timescales.
  • It sustains all terrestrial life; our lives depend on it.


But it’s poorly understood

Fundamental questions
  • How does the Critical Zone form?  
  • How does it function?
  • How will it change over time?


  • Serves the scientific community through research, infrastructure, data, & models.
  • Promotes interdisciplinary science, incl.
hydrology, geochemistry, biology, & more.


Share awareness of the Critical Zone

The Earth Scientist

Special CZO Issue, Fall 2016


Educator workshops

We offer professional development programming

  • CZ science and related topics.
  • Grade school to grad school.
  • Informal education too.
  • Hour-long workshops to 
semester-long courses.
  • Contact Don Haas



“Adventures in the 
Critical Zone”

  • General audience.
  • Wide range of topics
  • 1000+ pageviews/mo.
  • See the blog


Observatory comics

A comic about each of 
the 9 CZOs


PBS/WSKG videos

CZO is partnering with WSKG on short videos

  • Will appear on PBS LearningMedia website.
  • Focus on rainfall, runoff, 
evapotranspiration, and
 the carbon cycle.
  • "Explore the Critical Zone” 
video is complete
  • Watch the video (6.5 min)


Explore educational resources

Single location for CZO educational activities

See a collection of educational activities produced by the CZO Network.

  • Peer-reviewed, with standardized grade-levels, categories, and descriptions.
  • Currently 15 resources but will be expanding to 10’s more in 2019.
  • Visit the collection
Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

Many CZO educational resources are aligned to the NGSS.

The interdisciplinary nature of CZO science and its relevance to every terrestrial environment makes it well-suited to satisfying the new science standards.  The new standards value inclusion of locally relevant environmental content, and give far more attention to complex systems and climate change than prior standards.


See how we help train Critical Zone scientists

Undergrad course: Critical Zone Science 

Teaching materials for a 15-week, upper-level undergraduate course. Developed by 7 CZO investigators and collaborators.
 Hosted by InTeGrate (Science Educ. Resource Center).

  • 7 main modules,  4-5 class sessions each.
  • Integrates grand challenges facing society.
  • Builds interdisciplinary and systems thinking.
  • Uses real-world data sets & data visualization techniques.
  • Students will understand the interplay of rock, water, air, soil, & life and the profound importance of these issues.
  • Browse the course
CZO Virtual Institute

A project focused on cross-CZO, common measurements, and collaboration

  • Annual summer Interns program.
 Grad students, postgraduates.
  • International Scholars program.
 Supporting travel & research.
  • Cross-CZO science workshops.
  • AGU events, Working groups.
  • Funded by NSF’s SAVI project.
  • See more about the virtual institute
CZO webinars

Online presentations of CZO science

Virtual Field Experiences (VFE)

Online content for 3 Critical Zone Observatory field sites

  • Shale Hills, Southern Sierra, & Luquillo CZOs. 
  • Rich visual documentation of each site, augmented by maps and data.
  • Compare the Critical Zone (CZ) at these sites to the CZ in their backyards.
  • Create your own VFEs with our tools, promote CZ research.
  • Read discussion of CZO VFEs at

In the Trenches

Special issue: “Exploring  the Critical Zone, 
Earth’s Outer Skin”, Oct 2017

  • National Assoc. of Geoscience Teachers.
  • 5 main articles written by CZO personnel.
  • 2000 NAGT subscribers.
  • View the issue (NAGT members only)



CZO email newsletter

News, events, research highlights, upcoming meetings, Jobs/Opportunities and more



Illustration of the Critical Zone. After Chorover et al, 2007. Catalina-Jemez CZO

Locations of the nine Critical Zone Observatories

NESTA's The Earth Scientist special CZO issue, Fall 2016. 

Access past issues (NESTA members only)

PBS/WSKG videos. CZO is partnering with WSKG on short videos.

Watch the video (6.5 min)

"Adventures in the Critical Zone"

See the blog

CZO comics.  A comic about each of the 9 CZOs. 

See an example

CZO Educational Resources

Visit the collection

Undergrad course in Critical Zone Science. Hosted by InTeGrate (Science Educ. Resource Center).

Browse the course

NAGT's In the Trenches special issue: “Exploring  the Critical Zone,
Earth’s Outer Skin”, Oct 2017

View the issue (NAGT members only)

CZO offers professional development training.

Contact Don Haas

News Category:

Discipline Tags and CZOs

All Disciplines


Explore Further

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